Split ELA: Writing and Reading: Re-Imagining Literacy as Student-Driven

What we do in a nutshell.

In a student-driven instructional model, teachers co-create the curriculum alongside students. Our priority is to understand who our students are and want to be and, on that basis, create a transformational environment through which students can see themselves reflected in what they choose to read, write and discuss. Using a socio-constructivist pedagogy, instructional outcomes prioritize students learning how to learn with peers, processing through challenges— from problem identification, to application of resources or strategies, to creating solutions through trial-and-error, rather than relying solely on the teacher as the “expert in the room”.

Purpose & Goals:

  • Choice: Curriculum that is responsive to student needs is driven by student interest and increases autonomy
    • Essential for developing both intrinsic motivation and self-efficacy 
    • Focusing on autonomy, shifts instruction to students learning through their own choices, including mistakes. (Ryan & Deci)
  • Individualized, Mastery-Based Pacing: A mastery-based scope and sequence through two tandem courses allows the pacing and mastery to be increasingly set by students as opposed to an arbitrary timeline, and teach students to self-assess, set goals and manage time — time to make sense of texts, to explore their own thinking and work through their reading and writing selections. (Aukerman; Dweck)
    • Prioritizing small group instruction and 1:1 conferring, and minimizing undifferentiated whole class instructional time.
    • CCSS embedded in outcomes that spiral (9-12) 
  • True Peer Collaboration: In a dialogic, rather than monologic class, peer-mediated learning is key for learning content and language, and development of the self as part of, and responsible to, a larger community (the reader/writer interpretive community, but democratic society as well). Students largely direct themselves through selecting both independent and group texts, create, and lead their own groups relying solely on 3 rules. Students’ sensemaking is honored as a necessary process for self-expression, and learning to unpack complex texts strategically. (Aukerman; Erneling; Reznitskaya)
  • Experiential & Project-Based: Students work through goals set by themselves, their data and goals of the class in a workshop style; more time for students to be working and teachers to be listening and guiding. In this way, classroom work habits reflect real-world work habits (Aukerman; Stockman).
  • No More Deficit-Models: Teacher Growth through Responsive Teaching: A dialogic instructional model trains teachers to focus on what students are actively doing now instead of what they “can’t do yet”, and to build on those strengths by offering students greater opportunity for decision-making and then following into how students are engaging with complex texts, tasks, or with open-ended student discussion. Teachers then develop responsive instruction that honors the learning processes of each student. (Aukerman, Reznitskaya)
    • Non-traditional lesson planning and scope-and-sequences that emphasize learning, activities or routines for practicing and mastering skills that spiral up to CCSS expectations, rather than an arbitrary, predetermined curriculum.

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